500 Startups Closes $15M Fund '500 Falcons'
After closing a $10M fund earlier this year for Latin American startups, 500 Startups has just closed a new $15M fund known as '500 Falcons' (with a target of $30M) that will exclusively target early-stage startups in MENA, MENA diaspora founders, and non-MENA founders targeting MENA.
While the group has been investing in the MENA region since 2011, with 55 deals in 32 companies for a total of $6M, this will be the first fund focused specifically on the Arab World. With this new fund, the 500 group plan to invest in approximately 100-150 companies with about half of the fund and reserve the other half for follow-on investment in the top 20% of companies.
Hasan Haidar, the managing director of the MENA fund, who is currently based in Bahrain, will be making regular trips to business hubs in the region such as Cairo, Riyadh, Dubai and Doha, where the 500’s Series A program is based. Hasan will initially be joined by new partner Sharif El Badawi, a former Google employee and the current leader of TechWadi, and the duo will be advising the Wadi Accelerator in Oman and assisting them with community events.
There is a regional interest in venture capital investment, and according to Haidar, ‘government-supported programs are incentivizing people to set up VC funds, and M&A interest is coming from Europe and the Far East’.
While government-sponsored programs heavily incentivize country-specific investments, Haidar claims the idea is to grow the region as an ecosystem, working to increase the number of acquisitions and ultimately convince more people to start their own startups.